Seoul-crushing news

By November 2, 2022Current
Seoul-crushing news

TL;DR – Could the high turnout of people at Itaewon be because of the long pent-up deprivation of social events due to Covid-19 restrictions? What can we learn from this man-made disaster? 

The horror

An estimated 100,000 people filled the streets and at least 153 were reported dead from the fatal crowd crush in South Korea’s Itaewon on Saturday (29 Oct). The deaths included 22 foreigners.

Compounding the problem, visitors who entered the vicinity were oblivious to the impending danger ahead and joined the crowd.

A dense crowd formed in a narrow 4m-wide back alley. People fell and knocked others down in a domino effect. Fire authorities were alerted around 10.15 pm.

Crowds of about six people per square metre will face high risk. Bodies will be jammed together so tightly that they can no longer choose where they go and begin to follow wherever the crowd leads – like liquids. Pressure waves can travel through them, and they can lose control.

“When the crowd reaches that level of critical density, no individual in the crowd is essentially in charge of their own actions or their movements… No person can decide where to go or how to react,” said Dr Milad Haghani, senior lecturer in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of New South Wales, Australia.

Is this a desperate cry for more social events?

High COVID-19 restrictions limited our face-to-face interactions with our core network members, such as our partners, family members or, live-in roommates. Studies have shown that the loss of large gatherings has relational implications as festivities are usually organized by like-minded communities which reinforces a sense of belonging.

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People with a large number of newly established relationships (e.g. university students) may have struggled to transfer their online relationships to real life. Hence, resulting in lost contact and a heightened risk of social isolation.

Itaewon is known for freewheeling nightlife and is popular amongst young patrons and foreign tourists. This year’s Halloween festivities are the first virtually unrestricted event in three years.

Could the findings shared above and the high turnout, prove that the cause of the fatal incident is to be pinned on post-covid craving for social events and interactions?

This question is by no means lifting the blame off authorities. Their poor planning, poor design, poor control, poor policing and mismanagement are to blame.

The question simply seeks to explore the human behaviour aspect of the huge turnout.

Social responsibility

While we mourn over the deaths from this crowd crush tragedy and look to the authorities for crowd control measures, we too should take responsibility for our lives.

  1. Use social media

Most of us are savvy with social media. Before heading to the event, we could look for recent social media posts to check on the crowd. This will allow you to gauge if it is safe to head over.

  1. Tune into the radio

A little old school but news reporting on the current traffic status could hint at the status of the crowd in that area.

  1. Manage your expectations

Precaution is better than cure. Don’t take the risk or be pressured by your peers to go for an event, especially if you have a terrible feeling in your gut.

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Nicole Lim

Author Nicole Lim

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